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Mobile ransomware trebles

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The global nightmare of ransomware shows no sign of slowing down, with the volume of mobile ransomware rising over three-fold (3.5 times) during the first few months of the year, according to Kaspersky Lab’s Malware Report for Q1, 2017.

The number of mobile ransomware files detected reached 218,625 during the quarter, compared to 61,832 in the previous quarter, with the Congur family accounting for more than 86%. Ransomware targeting all devices, systems and networks also continued to grow, with 11 new cryptor families and 55,679 new modifications making their appearance in Q1.

Congur ransomware is primarily a blocker – setting or resetting the device PIN (passcode) so this requires the attackers to have administrator rights on the device, and some variants of the malware take further advantage of these rights to install their module into the system folder from where it is almost impossible to remove.

Despite the popularity of Congur, Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Fusob.h remained the most widely used mobile ransomware, accounting for nearly 45% of all users attacked by this threat during the quester. Once run, the Trojan requests administrator privileges, collects information about the device, including GPS coordinates and call history, and uploads the data to a malicious server. Based on what it receives, the server may send back a command to block the device.

The USA became the country hardest hit by mobile ransomware in Q1, with Svpeng ransomware the most widespread threat.

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In all, 55,679 new Windows ransomware modifications were detected during the quarter representing a near two-fold increase on Q4, 2016 (29,450). Most of these new modifications belonged to the Cerber family.

“The mobile threat landscape for ransomware was far from calm in Q1. Ransomware targeting mobile devices soared, with new ransomware families and modifications continuing to proliferate. People need to bear in mind that attackers can – and increasingly will – try to block access to their data not only on a PC but also on their mobile device,” notes Roman Unuchek, Senior Malware Analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

Other online threat statistics from the Q1, 2017 report include:

·         Kaspersky Lab solutions detected and repelled 479,528,279 malicious attacks from online resources located in 190 countries all over the world.

·         79,209,775 unique URLs were recognised as malicious by web antivirus components.

·         Attempted infections by malware that aims to steal money via online access to bank accounts were registered on 288,000 user computers.

·         Crypto-ransomware attacks were blocked on 240,799 computers of unique users.

·         Kaspersky Lab’s file antivirus detected a total of 174,989,956 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects.

·         Kaspersky Lab mobile security products also detected:

  • 1,333,605 malicious installation packages;
  • 32,038 mobile banking Trojans (installation packages).

 

To reduce the risk of infection, users are advised to:

·         Use robust security solutions and make sure they keep all software up to date.

·         Regularly run a system scan to check for possible infection.

·         Stay wise while online. Do not enter personal information into a website if you are at all unsure or suspicious.

·         Back up valuable information.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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